Monday, November 19, 2007

One Day (at a Time)

This John Lennon composition was the B-side to the "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" single of 1974, and was another byproduct of the burst of recording that the Elton/Lennon friendship from that time inspired.

Lennon's version appeared on his 1973 release Mind Games, which, to be honest, wasn't exactly his finest solo effort- although there were a few outstanding tracks, such as the title cut. But the combination of 1972's landslide defeat of presidential candidate George McGovern, the desire to distance himself from some of the politically radical friends he'd acquired and the subsequent harassment at the hands of the Nixon administration complete with the threat of losing his visa, and the unraveling of his relationship with Yoko Ono seemed to have left him deeply uninspired- and the singsongy melody and greeting card-worthy lyrics of this track, yet another paean to Yoko Ono, serves as ultimate proof of that.

Out of all the candidates, why Elton chose this one to cover is a mystery to me, but he gamely gives it a go; where the original had a shuffling, lackadaisical rhythm, he speeds it up ever-so-slightly and has Johnstone contribute some guitar licks in place of the somewhat off-key ooo-oohs of Lennon's. Lennon himself is supposed to be contributing guitar and BVs, according to the Rare Masters liner notes, but if he is he's buried in the mix.

Even though it hangs together better as a song here, it can't disguise the fact that it's every bit as precious and twee as a typical 70's Paul McCartney composition, an irony which must have escaped Lennon but not many of his fans or critics.


Roger Green said...

Don't know the EJ version, but i always thought the JL version was kind of fun after the super serious (and occasionally pedantic) songs that made up much of his solo oeuvre. (And silly songs making up some of the rest.)

Johnny B said...

Sure, it goes down easier than, oh, "Mother" or "Gimme Some Truth"- but I've always felt that "One Day" was by far the weakest track on John's second weakest album (Some Time in NYC gets #1). Heck, on Mind Games, "Intuition" and "Tight A$" manage to be light and humorous...